News items regarding environmental racism have appeared and been discarded for the past several decades. Now the AP just released a story on the environmental racism in North Carolina.
First the good news, North Carolina appears to have a slightly lower correlation between race and pollution than the rest of the country:
But while her circumstance is not unique nationwide — African-Americans are 79 percent more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where industrial air pollution is suspected of causing the most health problems — it’s not as common among blacks and other minorities in North Carolina.
According to an Associated Press analysis, African-Americans in North Carolina are 12 percent more likely than whites to live in the 10 percent of the state with the worst industrial air pollution. Hispanics are just as likely as whites to live in those neighborhoods, while Asian residents are 25 percent less likely.
Only eight other states fared better in the comparison between African-Americans and whites, and in seven of those states, whites were more likely to live in those areas. By comparison, black residents are 72 percent more likely to live in the worst areas in South Carolina, 91 percent more likely in Tennessee and more than three times as likely in Virginia.
Now the bad news, North Carolina is the home to 38 neighborhoods that are in the bottom 5% of the nation in pollution:
In North Carolina, 38 census tracts — each the size of a small neighborhood — were among the worst 5 percent of tracts nationwide. The South Park tract had the highest rate of racial disparity in the state.
In Western North Carolina, two Haywood County census tracts — downtown Canton and some areas east of town — were among the 5 percent worst risk in the nation for industrial air pollution, according to the AP’s analysis.
Of course, the article gathers some sparse anecdotal evidence on the health effects of pollution rather than examining the issue and presenting scientific evidence on the matter. After examining the life of a 7-year old that developed asthma after moving to a polluted area, the article concludes with:
Wilmington resident Bill Walsh lives in the Wilmington’s Kings Grant neighborhood, a middle-class subdivision of 20- and 30-year-old homes that’s inside the census tract that registered the highest health risk in North Carolina.
“I don’t see a whole lot of people who are sick,” Walsh said.
But Dr. Debbie Leiner, a Greensboro pediatrician who worked largely with indigent patients for 18 years, said she has seen respiratory problems in her new practice, which includes many whites.
“There’s no question we’re seeing an increase in asthma,” Leiner said. “It is clear to doctors that environmental issues are causing a lot of the problems that we’re seeing now, and I believe it’s going to link to more problems in the future.”
To the current administration this might be inconclusive evidence at best since a doctors statements are contradicted by a layperson that merely lives in the area.